Last night I decided I’d shut down my deviantART account. (See? Didn’t even link to it.)
I’ve kicked this around for a long time. I have the option of deleting my account, and having no presence there at all, but I decided I’d just remove all my writing from the public area (deleting them would have taken forEVER) and store them where they’re not visible. Then I’d leave a goodbye note to friends and loved ones there and just let it go.
If you’re not familiar with it, deviantART is essentially Facebook or MySpace for artists. Originally founded to showcase visual art, it also has a thriving photography and literary community too. Discussion boards and chat rooms too. It’s a thriving community.
It’s also just not the sort of place I want to be anymore.
Things started going south for me in 2008. I am a conservative surrounded by short-attention span liberals and that mixes like oil and water. I’m not a politico by any means, but I also won’t be told how I should feel or act or vote. So there were fallings out with “friends”. Of course they weren’t really friends, were they? Just people I knew from dA.
Something happened with a person I don’t associate with anymore. I’ve alluded to it before, and things between us soured. I went away shocked and angry, and in a couple of days I was just snarky. I don’t have the energy to hold a grudge so I didn’t. 2008 was the last of the really bad years for me. I lost not one but TWO dA friends that year over ridiculous, stupid things. I never bothered reaching out because, honestly, who cares? Those weren’t people I’d ever see in person anyway, and not being in contact with them only left me more time.
FAITH-BASED, BELIEF-SYSTEM ORIENTED CONTENT WARNING!
Click away NOW if you don’t like hearing about Jesus, or think it’s your place/job/duty to argue, insult or demean me and my faith. /Disclaimer.
Over the course of the past eighteen months, I’ve grown in my Christian walk. I’ve come to realize Christ’s living relationship with me is more important to me than any other relationship I have now, or will ever have. I realize with each passing day the influence He has on me and my thinking, how He works in the hearts of those who follow Him, and how He shifts my views. I don’t see things the same way I did a year or two ago. Not even close. And as I seek His face every day, every time I get on my knees and pray, I realize more fully how insignificant some of the things I held important were.
One of those things was being right all the time. I can read about how someone on the Internet thinks my faith is for morons and laugh. I can see statements from others which conflict with how I think and believe and recognize how trivial a disagreement can be. So if someone isn’t my “friend” anymore because I said Barack Obama was elected SOLELY on the color of his skin and NOT on the content of his character, well … I guess we can’t be friends then. *Shrug* Based on the level of incompetence this entire administration has shown I don’t retract or feel embarrassed by ANY of the statements I made shortly after the election of ‘08. One “friend” down? Yeah, guess so.
I had another disagreement with someone who thought I was “psycho” and the use of that word “offended” me. (No, it didn’t. I was lookin’ for a reason to step in her face because I felt she’d stepped in mine.) I look back on how THAT “friendship” fell apart and realized how the two of us weren’t friends in the first place. But I did appreciate her helping me down the road toward improving my prose. She was the first very honest critic I had, though I’ve had much tougher and more honest ones since. I didn’t react as well as I should have, and that put her on tenterhooks. When I joked about how she never said much of worth to me after that, she got upset and before that day was out she’d thrown me off like so much dirty underwear.
Ah, well. Enter Jesus again, Who took my hand and showed me how unimportant it was, how harmless it was, for me to be soft and gentle in my response instead of harsh and looking for excuses to fight. Being pugilistic didn’t get me anything except down another friend (this actually happened first, in May of ‘08 I believe). Which is exactly what happened. I wouldn’t budge, and while I thought she might have extended an olive branch several months ago, it was not in my scope of ability to recognize it OR respond appropriately to it. Goodbye, friend number two.
Finally, in October of ‘08, someone I cared a lot about basically went stone-cold nuts and chose a psychological time-bomb to side with over me in a disagreement which didn’t have to be anything more than a simple misunderstanding left alone to straighten itself out. Two people working on a written “apology” (which said, in effect, I’m sorry I reacted to you being such an a$$hole) didn’t do much to move me toward reconciliation, and I wanted nothing whatever to do with the pathological liar and manipulator I saw on the other side of the triangle. My “friend” felt otherwise, joined to their cause and left me down “friend” number three.
That last one stung. I sided with that person over her own church and tried to encourage her when she felt attacked by the very faith community she tried to be part of. My wife, innocent of all wrongdoing, was also mistreated. This angered me more than my own mistreatment by far.
Yet, the Lord has gotten me to see that, my wife wasn’t really injured in it. It was a lousy thing to do, but honestly, she didn’t have her integrity insulted or her dignity stained. Her reputation was intact. Nothing happened. Not really. It was a slight but nothing more.
So here I sit realizing I’m complicit in each of the disasters befallen those relationships. I knew to stay out of political things. Why did I do what I did? All I needed to do was keep silent. I felt, at the time, I didn’t have to do that, I had as much right as anyone to speak my mind on the subject. I did, and do, and all that’s fine but politics – and the election of 2008 more than any other in my memory – polarizes people and views. If I had no wish to disrupt the status of my relationships all I had to do was say nothing. It was after the fact anyway; what difference did it make? None. It just drove someone away I cared about. Or thought I did anyway. And why not an apology to those who, whether rightly or wrongly, felt slighted by me? Who would be harmed by that? The cry of “But I don’t have anything to apologize for!” is the cry of the lonely person sitting alone in a wilderness, abandoned by all would-be companions. Seldom do those who want to be right ever recognize when they’re wrong. SOMEONE must be the grown-up in such situations.
Last night, I decided I would be the grown up in these cases. I would, in my parting notice to those who have called themselves “friends”, humble myself enough to apologize for the perceived wrongdoings. I couldn’t apologize specifically – after all, I don’t know what they feel offended about or by – so I threw up a generic “I’m sorry for what happened between us and what I did or said that hurt you.” Notice I didn’t say “MIGHT have hurt you” – it’s a forgone certainty I did, in fact, inflict real or perceived injury. So I made no bones of my apology and didn’t cap in any disclaimer in any way. I simply apologized. Not to all three of them, but to two of the three. (I have specific reasons for not apologizing to the third person, and yes, they’re unrelated to feeling I had nothing to apologize for. I think I probably do, but won’t because that would be hypocrisy. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.)
And almost immediately I received notice that one of the two persons I’d apologized to had commented on my goodbye note. Only to say they missed me and I should email them, but contact nonetheless. I answered no, I wouldn’t email; I don’t know what else to say and it’s late. They responded AGAIN saying they felt they owed me a long explanation and they would, in fact, send an email.
What I got wasn’t “long” – which is relative, at any rate – and it rambled to the point of almost being indecipherable, but basically this person wanted me to know how they had, for months, considered apologizing, reaching out, explaining things, yada yada yada…
All blather, of course. If they’d sincerely meant to do that they’d done it, just as I would have had the spirit moved me (or is that the Spirit? hm) to do so. It’s only very recently I find myself longing for people of like mind, of like faith, of like interests. I want to share with conservative Christian writers and move in their circles, but I know in my heart they could never embrace my work. But it’s hard for me to fit in to any group, so I stay where I am, hoping someone will be at least similar to me somehow. It hasn’t happened yet, but the world is big and despite how full the Internet is of denizens, it’s a lonely place when you feel you belong with no one.
No, I said my apologies and meant them as best I could, and don’t expect reciprocity either in word or deed. All I want to cleanse my conscience of the stain of my own inequities in the matters, and move on.
I don’t know if blogging will or won’t be the next thing to go for me. I’ll have to even wait and see what the ramifications are for leaving dA. I spent so little time there and found so many things I once held interesting to be annoying, it can’t be a mistake. But where on the Internet CAN I go to find people who believe as I do and share my interests, worldview when appropriate, and more? One of the two to whom I apologized felt that way to me through the haze of memory and yet, the email response I got indicates to me perhaps I’m again alone in the most important aspects I sought companionship about. Strangely sad to know that bridge didn’t exist anymore.
But then, in many ways and in many topics, we can never go home again, can we? Time moves in one and only one direction and I am not the same man I was before. I will never be him again. While I’m interested in finding out who I am now and what I want, I can say with assuredness not finding it will not surprise me, neither disappoint me. I don’t expect to discover it.
What I will discover remains to be seen. Isn’t that what life is about?